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NFL Power Rankings 2016: Predicting Post-Week 2 Standings

Jared Johnson@@jaredtjohnson21Featured ColumnistSeptember 14, 2016

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) warms up prior to an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

Monday morning overreaction time is over. There’s no need to fire out any more of your hottest NFL takes about what you learned in Week 1.

While it’s dangerous to be too reactive to Week 1’s results, the season is already one-sixteenth over, and many of the games we saw over the weekend had playoff implications.

Let’s examine the league’s pecking order with one week of meaningful play in the books. Then, we’ll focus on what went wrong for some of the teams whose stock fell after their first games.

2016 Week 2 NFL Power Rankings
RankTeamRecordWeek 2 MatchupPredicted Record
1New England Patriots1-0vs. MIA2-0
2Pittsburgh Steelers1-0vs. CIN2-0
3Denver Broncos1-0vs. IND2-0
4Green Bay Packers1-0at MIN2-0
5Seattle Seahawks1-0at LA2-0
6Carolina Panthers0-1vs. SF1-1
7Arizona Cardinals0-1vs. TB1-1
8Cincinnati Bengals1-0at PIT1-1
9Kansas City Chiefs1-0at HOU1-1
10Oakland Raiders1-0vs. ATL2-0
11Minnesota Vikings1-0vs. GB1-1
12Houston Texans1-0vs. KC2-0
13Tampa Bay Buccaneers1-0at ARI1-1
14New York Giants1-0vs. NO2-0
15New York Jets0-1at BUF1-1
16Baltimore Ravens1-0at CLE2-0
17Jacksonville Jaguars0-1at SD1-1
18Detroit Lions1-0vs. TEN2-0
19Dallas Cowboys0-1at WAS0-2
20Indianapolis Colts0-1at DEN0-2
21Philadelphia Eagles1-0at CHI1-1
22Buffalo Bills0-1vs. NYJ0-2
23Washington Redskins0-1vs. DAL1-1
24San Francisco 49ers1-0at CAR1-1
25Miami Dolphins0-1at NE0-2
26Atlanta Falcons0-1at OAK0-2
27New Orleans Saints0-1at NYG0-2
28Chicago Bears0-1vs. PHI1-1
29Tennessee Titans0-1at DET0-2
30San Diego Chargers0-1vs. JAX0-2
31Cleveland Browns0-1vs. BAL0-2
32Los Angeles Rams0-1vs. SEA0-2
Rankings belong to author

    

Arizona Cardinals (No. 7)

In a Week 1 where none of the NFC’s top contenders played very well, the Cardinals put forth the most underwhelming performance. Despite playing at home against a New England Patriots squad minus Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and Rob Ninkovich, Arizona fell 23-21.

Fans of a losing team often like pointing to one play as the reason for the loss, and that play for Cards fans Sunday was a poor snap leading up to the potentially game-winning field-goal attempt. However, if a game against a severely undermanned team has to come down to that, there were obviously bigger problems.

Cardinals running back David Johnson was grounded by the Patriots most of the contest.
Cardinals running back David Johnson was grounded by the Patriots most of the contest.Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

Arizona struggled in all three phases of the game. Its normally excellent passing game couldn’t get into a rhythm in the first half, and David Johnson was having a lackluster game on the ground until a spectacular 45-yard scamper in the fourth quarter. The defense made quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo look awfully comfortable in his first NFL start.

Head coach Bruce Arians blamed his team’s preparation, according to ESPN.com’s Josh Weinfuss: "We were obviously not ready to play. They outplayed us, and we will learn from it and grow from it and continue. There's a long way to go and regroup and see if we can win the next one."

In Week 2, the defense will have to be especially sharp, as it faces Jameis Winston and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

   

Indianapolis Colts (No. 20)

The Detroit Lions defense may not be the best measuring stick, but Andrew Luck looked back to his All-Pro self of 2014 Sunday afternoon, tallying 406 total yards, four passing touchdowns and no turnovers. He also got impressive protection from a much-maligned offensive line.

The problems came pretty much everywhere else in a 39-35 loss, however.

Indianapolis had trouble putting forth resistance against Detroit's passing and running games.
Indianapolis had trouble putting forth resistance against Detroit's passing and running games.Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

Indy’s defense is decimated by injuries, but there was still not much of an excuse for how easily Matthew Stafford got throws off and shredded the secondary. Theo Riddick was a problem for Colts tacklers in space and ended up with 12 touches for 108 yards and two scores. 

Additionally, the team needs to find a way to better integrate the running game. The squad as a whole continued its habit of starting slowly in Week 1 against the Lions, which means it consistently has to play from behind and throw the ball a high percentage of the time.

Indianapolis’ offense will get its biggest test of the season Sunday against the Denver Broncos’ vaunted defense. The result of that battle may not even matter that much, though, if the defense continues to bleed points against even mediocre scoring units.

   

Los Angeles Rams (No. 32)

Last year, the Rams raised some eyebrows by taking down the Seattle Seahawks in overtime of their Week 1 battle. Week 1 of this season was a different story.

Playing its first game as the Los Angeles Rams, the team got shut out 28-0 by the San Francisco 49ers, a squad considered by most as one of the worst in the NFL. The offense mustered just 185 yards and turned the ball over twice.

Case Keenum completed 17 of 35 passes for 130 yards and two interceptions and had a 34.2 passer rating on Monday night.
Case Keenum completed 17 of 35 passes for 130 yards and two interceptions and had a 34.2 passer rating on Monday night.Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Are the 49ers a more respectable squad than we thought? Or are the Rams that bad? Was it a one-game anomaly? There’s probably some truth in answering "yes" to all three of those questions.

The biggest problem for Los Angeles is the passing game, which has been bad for several seasons now but looked absolutely pitiful in Week 1. To his credit, signal-caller Case Keenum took the blame, saying, "This team deserves better play from their quarterback," according to ESPN.com’s Alden Gonzalez.

The Rams do deserve better. If they don’t get it, star running back Todd Gurley won’t have running lanes, and the defense won’t ever be in good field position to stop the opponent. 

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